REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP
AUTHOR – BILL TAYLOR
COPYRIGHT 2017 – BILL TAYLOR
PUBLISHED BY BILL TAYLOR AT Shakespir
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Special thanks to Shila and Pragna for their unwavering support and inspiration
REFLECTIONS OF A SHEEP
1 – THERE IS NO SORROW HEAVEN CAN’T HEAL
2 – THE STORY OF ED
3 – TOTALLY PRESENT IN THE PRESENT
4 – HE LOVED ME FIRST – AMAZING
5 – NEED MEETER OR FAULT FINDER
There Is No Sorrow – Heaven Can’t Heal
What do you do when life crashes? When your every reason for breathing evaporates before your very eyes and you are left standing in the ashes of your own lostness wondering what happened.
When your brain shuts down to protect itself from your real life nightmare, leaving you unable to emotionally defend yourself. When maintaining a single thought for more than a few fleeting seconds is considered “progress”.
When all the well-wishing observers have thrown in the towel with their well-founded fear that you don’t have long before it’s all over.
When you pray every night to “not wake up” and be angered the next morning when you do.
When the mountain is too high to climb. When the river is too deep to cross. When the sorrow is too painful. When the chasm between your insanity and your vaguely remembered sanity is light years apart.
When you are forty years of age and expecting to soon become an overnight news story to be shared with coffee drinking strangers the following morning.
To repeat: what do you do when life crashes? More specifically; what did I do when my life crashed?
The reasons behind the fall aren’t important anymore. But the God that breathed life back into me is! My life is a testimony to this truth: God prefers resurrections over burials!
So, what do we do when life crashes? We look up! With whatever energy we have remaining in our souls, we look up. No matter how hideous our prevailing condition is, we look up. Why? Because “There Is No Sorrow Heaven Can’t Heal”. Equally important; there is no sorrow heaven doesn’t desire to heal.
Equipped with that truth, we don’t give up we look up to the source and author of all comebacks!
Twenty nine years ago the thought I would see sixty nine and in the process of writing a book would have been justifiably laughable. Remembering my name was the challenge back then.
Well, it would seem clear that God wasn’t laughing. He has brought me so very far from those days of the darkest of dark. You might be curious as to how God got my comeback started?
Spiritually speaking, there was a moment when gazing with fear and trembling at the un-climbable mountain, my Shepherd Jesus came along side.
He picked me up, put me on His shoulders, and up the mountain we went to find healing on the other side.
He peered into my heart, saw the massive damage, and opted to give me a new one rather than fix the old. A heart that belonged to Him!
A heart He has thankfully used in the lives of many others since.
As I would eventually discover, God does nothing for the sake of itself only. There are always futuristic secondary lives God has pre-planned in His magnificent mind as part of His rescues to be revealed at a later time. God’s time and according to His will.
It’s been a step by step journey but here I am today more fulfilled, content, productive, and well, than ever before in my life.
I’m entering into my retirement with the excitement and expectation of a child on Christmas morning. I truly believe that as magnificent as things are now, the best is still yet to come!
At my very worst, God brought me His very best! When I could offer Him nothing, He gave me His everything, unconditionally!
You see if there had been a condition, I wouldn’t have been able to pay it. There’s a reason they call grace amazing!
To me, grace is God intervening in a life on life support. It’s God saying: before you pull the plug on that life I have a better idea. A comeback!
Psalm 121 – 2: “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth”.
God’s lovingly imparted power and sovereignty is over “all things” in heaven and earth. That would include un-climbable mountains and un-crossable rivers!
The Value Of One – The Story Of Ed
At times we can get caught up in numbers, resulting in short-sighted conclusions to what should be long term desires. Therefore, we can incorrectly evaluate the effectiveness of our labors.
For today’s reflection I would like to share a personal “real life” story of a man named Ed and in doing so hopefully enlighten us all to the value of “one” from heaven’s perspective.
As exposed in my previous sharing, I had a full blown nervous breakdown at forty years of age. Twenty nine years ago life crashed and I crashed with it.
I am keenly aware: apart from the grace of God there wouldn’t have been a comeback in my future.
In short: I was beyond bad and getting worse. I was basically disabled from any activity that involved memory or the need to hold an intelligent conversation. Driving was considered out of the question as my brain would freeze up leaving me periodically at a loss as to where I was going and why thus dangerous to myself and others.
Therefore, being a commissioned courier meant: no work equaling no income, with no reason to believe that things were going to improve. I had gone from top driver to no driver: in reality: no anything.
And that’s when a man named Ed stepped into the story.
Ed was my boss of one year and owner of the courier company I worked for. He was an extremely busy and successful entrepreneur but as God would have it: not too busy for me!
Ed and I had become friends over our short time together but on the strangest of levels. Ed was the guy with the Cadillac, mink winter coat, and five hundred dollar shoes while I was the guy in the Honda Civic, wearing jeans and runners. Oddest of couples to be sure, but Ed appreciated my hustle and ambition, finding them to be worthy of his frequent applause.
But those attributes were now gone, perhaps never to return. I had nothing to offer of worth as a participant in our friendship. I was damaged goods for the first time in my life and scared to death, disallowed to leave my residence for fear I would un-intentionally drift off. I was now officially a major problem to myself and everyone around me.
After a week of sitting in my basement apartment getting worse by the day, Ed called. His query? When was I coming back to work? If the question weren’t so sad it would have been laughable in a hideous sort of way.
My response should have been Ed’s opportunity to wash his hands of the entire matter as I filled in the blanks regarding my condition. He should have ran for the exit, but instead proposed an idea that was by all accounts crazy from his perspective.
I should come into the office to work until my situation improved, was his plan. He would pay me full wages in the meantime. I told him I can’t drive, even to the office.
He responded: “I’ll pick you up, be ready at 7:00 tomorrow morning”. I warned him, “Ed you are making a big mistake”. His final words? “I’ll be the judge of that, be ready in the morning”. And with that Ed hung up leaving me without a goodbye or option of a retort.
Seven A.M. the next morning there was Ed in his Cadillac pulling up the driveway with me getting inside wondering which of us was more crazy. The expiry date of this idea would be short lived once Ed realized first hand just how bad I was, seemed a justifiable assumption by me.
Well, that routine would be repeated for two months with this important inclusion for you to know. My office responsibilities? Getting coffee ( on foot ). It was discovered both frighteningly and embarrassingly, my brain wouldn’t co-operate with anything more complicated.
Within a few days I offered Ed an “out” with my apologies and expressed appreciation for his kind attempt to help. When he refused I had to ask why.
“Because you have worth and I’m not going lose you”, was his emphatic response. What worth? I was brain dead! But every day in word and deed Ed faithfully continued with his commitment to my comeback and in time, Ed’s viewpoint gradually transferred itself into a resurrection of my own sense of value.
To fast forward: I was back on the road, re-established as top driver in two months with a brain that functioned again. So, is that the end of “The Story Of Ed”? Not even close! You see, Ed’s story has no end!
Ed owns a piece of each subsequent life story I have been privileged to touch since then!
Looking back I’m amazed at the profound impact of Ed’s generous selflessness.
He by choice made available to God the much needed time for God to heal me, thereby providing for me not only wellness but also futuristic opportunities to invest myself in others.
Since those days there have been many lives that the “one” who Ed deemed valuable, has participated in. Ed is directly responsible for each!
Did he know at the time? Not a chance. Ed simply believed that “one” in heaven’s economy was worth investing in and did so.
God did the multiplying but He needed “one” who believed “one” had great value!
Totally Present – In The Present
The past can be a problem depending on the severity of the experiences that reside in our rear view mirrors. To put it kindly, my past is colorful!
For the longest time I felt like the turkey wish bone on Thanksgiving being pulled in two different directions. One by my Shepherd inviting me into newness of life, while the other reminding me of my past failures, with me in the middle doing the spiritual splits.
The future can equally bring its own set of distractions regarding the unknown. So, I’ve had the past, present, and future competing and clamoring for my attention. I had to learn to live totally present in the present. To appreciate each day as if it were my last.
In the process, I have found that walking with God is best experienced in the “right now”. Not six months from now or six months ago. I’ve recognized and embraced the obvious: Today is all I truly have with the attached responsibility to be available, one more time for God to use.
My yesterdays? Forgiven and remembered by God no more.
My tomorrows? Entrusted into the hands of God.
My today? That’s the time frame that God trusts me with, thus in need of my undivided attention!
Matthew 6 – 25 > 27: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Perhaps over simplified but seeing as Jesus said it, I thought I’d give it a try and have found it to be very effective.
When our past is allowed access into our present, we contaminate by regurgitation what we truly have, the wonderful gift of one more day. When our future becomes our main focus of attention, we end up with the same net result. Perhaps that’s why Jesus cautioned us regarding both.
John 8 – 36: “So if the Son sets you free you will be free indeed”.
Free from concerns regarding the past and future, allowing us the blessed luxury to live in the “right now”!
This is the day that the Lord has made. We really should rejoice and be glad in it . After all, it’s what we truly have. Unless you good folks have guarantees that I don’t!
He Loved Me First – Amazing
Constant awareness of this titled truth is of supreme importance to my heart. I’m not sure anything of lasting significance can be accomplished in me without its impact fortifying my soul with every breath.
Its deeply profound meaning provides a sweet fragrance to my life as it permeates that internal sacred place within me causing a voluntary immersion into God’s welcoming heart.
As my understanding of His love washes over my soul He then becomes “the object of my affection” and “provider of my peace”, thereby creating a “relationship” lifestyle with my Creator.
Its place of residence is in the unseen, therefore mine is a supernatural response to being loved supernaturally.
I love Him ‘‘because’‘ He first loved me! If He had not, I would nor could not! The unearned, unmerited, grace of God is my ‘‘because and reason why’‘. It’s the fuel that drives my passion forward!
Imagine, long before I ever acknowledged His existence, He acknowledged mine and loved me. Long before I could do a single thing to respond to His love, He loved me. Long before I knew I had a need, He met the need for me!
That’s breathtakingly amazing and reveals a quality of love that cannot be comprehended but incredibly, can be experienced.
Psalm 52 – 8: “But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever”.
Loved by God with a love that cannot be shaken! What a wonderful heavenly security my “Shepherd” has provided for me to live in.
He leads me by “still waters” He “restores” my soul. Daily! It’s a very good thing to be a sheep!
Need Meeter Or Fault Finder
In the heart of Jesus which do we find? Our Shepherd being the same, yesterday, today, and forever, allows us with confidence to embrace what we discover as permanently never changing.
So, let’s delve into a biblical scenario where Jesus finds Himself with an opportunity to expose to us the true identity of His heart. One He wishes for us to know, intimately.
The reality is: we must know Him to emulate Him. We can’t be conformed to multiple choice vagueness. There is only one Jesus. As we study the scriptures may He come out of the shadows and present Himself to us in all of His radiant glory, crystal clear for all to see!
The story of Lazarus: Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus has become sick unto death. The news is sent to Jesus complete with a request for His quick return, with the hope and belief that if He could get to the scene on time Jesus could and would heal His friend. These folks had faith!
Seeing the “big picture” purpose, Jesus delays and upon His arrival is told Lazarus has been dead for four days. The accusations fly and their faith becomes a thing of the distant past.
It’s amazingly predictable that when faith leaves, fault finding arrives, as was the case in this story. It was time for them to let Jesus know exactly what they thought of Him and so they did!
“What’s the matter with you Jesus? Did you not care enough? If you had been here your friend Lazarus would still be alive. This is your fault!”
“If you had been here”? Well, that’s interesting. Do we hear a little faith resurfacing? No, it’s called a back handed compliment. Faith in the Healer but not in the Healer’s heart.
Once finished with their attack, they wept.
Our Lords reaction? Well, there was more than enough faulty thinking available for Him to lower the correctional boom on all their heads, therefore reciprocal fault finding would have been a justifiable option.
So, what did Jesus do? He wept with them and for them but to be clear, not because of them.
He wasn’t offended. He was more than secure enough in Himself to graciously withstand their verbal assault regarding His integrity.
He simply wept because they wept, interestingly all the while knowing, this story was far from over!
In the midst of the tears Jesus demanded that the stone covering the tomb of Lazarus be rolled away, followed with His confirmation of authority over death, as He spoke life into the corpse of His friend with these magnificent words: “Lazarus come forth”!
Saving His best for last, Jesus with His final word on the matter declares to all in attendance His transcendent truth. “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live”!
Jesus had turned their sorrowful mourning into jubilant joy! Interestingly in the midst of their euphoria, the story doesn’t reveal a stream of apologies coming from the accusers of Jesus.
More fault un-acknowledged by our Lord. This is the heart of our Savior! A heart that can be trusted to look beyond our faults and minister to our needs.